Finding Silver Linings

Cali 011Thanks to a friend, I’ve been thinking about discovering the silver linings in sad or disappointing events. She says every experience has the potential for a silver lining. I didn’t think that was true, but I decided to try to find the silver in one of the saddest things I’ve ever experienced: the gradual realization that my kids (grown men now) would not be returning, perhaps ever, to live in their home state of Michigan. Where I live.

We were not going to have any more family holidays together. We would not be meeting for lunch. We were not going to throw a barbecue for our friends and invite the boys to bring their friends. We were not going to shop for Christmas gifts, groceries, or school books together. Tim was not going to be taking over the garage for yet another car project. That part of being a mom, being in close physical contact, was over for me.

Cali.2014.5photoMothers have to let their kids go, and I did, of course. I had no choice, and while it makes me feel sorry for myself, I am happy for them. Their happiness makes me so very happy, always.  So, besides their happiness, where is my very own personal silver lining? I just didn’t think there was one, but finally, the other day, I realized  Tim is living my California Dream. (When I was four, we lived in California for about a year. Growing up, I constantly wished that we had never left.) There’s something about being close to the ocean that has always fed my soul. I know why he chose it; it’s part of our shared DNA.

Mike is living another kind of wonderful life further up the coast. 2011vac.AcHas a wife he loves. Great job. A dog, for the first time ever, and a house. He has a baby boy of his own on the way. Of course I am overjoyed. But my first grandchild will not know me the up close and personal way my sons knew my mother. Where is the silver lining in that?

It took me a little more time to figure this one out: the fact that there is to be a grandson is a gold star, which everyone knows beats silver linings. And I will consciously create moments with this already so beloved boy still yet-to-be.

Here’s my big selfish silver lining to all of this, and it’s been happening for years. Al and I have visited California six times in the last decade. First when Mike was a grad student at USC, then when Jessica and he moved to Beverly Hills, then at their wedding in the canyons of Malibu. Twice, we’ve visited Tim and his wife in their beachside community an hour north of LA. And once, after Mike and Jessica moved, we took a road trip from LA to Seattle, visiting with the kids on either end of the journey.

A&C.cali.2014

We wound our way through Big Sur, a dream of mine since I first read On The Road a million years ago. We found out-of-the-way beaches and tall mountains and generally did so much traveling to places I’m not sure we’d ever have seen had our children not moved west. And we plan more silver lining places: Vancouver this summer, maybe the Canadian Rockies or Alaska or both, next.

Which makes me think suddenly that there’s another silver lining especially for me in all this. I’m finally getting serious about becoming fit enough to venture afoot to all the places I still want to see in this wide world.

20 Comments on “Finding Silver Linings

  1. and thank you Cynthia for your this reflection. My mother used to say the same thing: “it hurts me to let my kids go, but they have to follow what’s good for them.” Sting says: “…free, free…set them free.” Now that I have my own kids (yes within the last couple of years I had two), and seeing especially my first one growing, it bothers me to think that one day they will be leaving off to some other place (let alone all the craziness in the world that I pray they remain far from).

    In your case, California is a silver lining, it would be for me too. I mean wouldn’t be great if one of my children (or both) would live in one of those inspiring places you mentioned in California, next to the ocean like you said, while pursuing their dream (maybe in the movie or film industry out there, which is, I confess, something their father didn’t venture out to do).

    Your blog helped prepare me for the future with my own children. Thank you very much teacher and friend.

    btw – I like the Gypsy poster very much. The woman rather “flowing” reminds me of the Oracle from the Matrix movie. Just the font, the font for the title and the author (your name) needs improvement, something other than yellow color also maybe. That’s just me of course, it is ultimately your choice. 🙂

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    • Hi Khaled, congrats on your children:) I’ve been following your adventures via our connection on social media and think of you every time Syria is on the news or in the paper. Gypsy cover is one I purchased as is, although the guy is really great and would change it for me if I asked. My son said to put the new blog header in png instead of jpg and I did that. I copied the color he used for the title, so I knew he’d approve of that:)

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  2. I know exactly how you feel! When I was diagnosed with chronic pain/fatigue Fibromyalgia…I thought my life was over. But in that diagnosis stage, two people in my life made me realize two very important things. And my silver lining came when I decided to fight back by getting in shape and traveling all over, doing things I never thought I would, appreciating life like I never had before. Every rock, every plant and every view. It’s an amazing way to live and I think it can only come from being in a very dark place and choosing to lift yourself up. Most people don’t have the strength to do it, and some succumb to that depression. It’s so refreshing to read posts like this. It reminds me of great things and I’m so, so happy for all the adventures you’ll have in the years to come. 🙂

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    • Thanks Gin! My life has been one big fat adventure and I’m just lucky to have a mate who shares my love of travel and finding new gifts wherever they lead.

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  3. Cindy,

    In a book by Kahlil Gibran, The Prophet, he writes. “The children are not yours. They come through you to give them roots, then later to give them wings to fly away.” When I have been in similar shoes, saying good-by to a child leaving for school, another state, country, or farther, I focus on his message while reminding myself that this is a part of the human condition and I will get through it. And through those eyes, I have found silver linings and rainbows. Keep smiling. 😉

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  4. Oh, Cynthia, I read every word. This is such an honest post and one everyone can relate to. I’m proud of you for making the effort to visit your sons, and often. And I know you can get in shape to do the walking and stairs that travel takes. I think that is the absolute best kind of fitness goal. Thanks for sharing from the heart. You reached this reader!

    Nia

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  5. Cindy your experience is very similar to what I am going through as well. Although my kids are only in Chicago, so not as far. But I wished I could be close once grandkids come. Your perspective on looking for the silver lining is helpful. We do want for our kids to be healthy and happy and soar on their own. Have to let go. But it is so much better if we focus on their successes–and make the most out of the adventures that will be as we visit them down the road!!

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    • Hi Janet:) thanks for reading. It really touches me that you keep up with me still. Seems like not too long ago we were 14 and thinking about boys, lol. I wasn’t sure sure if your daughter was just visiting Vietnam or living/studying/working there. Chicago is much closer than Asia. We will figure this out together. Glad I have a good rapport with daughter-in-law who is just a sweetheart!

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  6. Lovely post, Cynthia. Distance from your family is tough. I have been dealing with it ever since I went to college and never really moved back. When I was young I think I thought it was temporary and I’d make my way back. Still not back and I have to say, one my little one came along, I felt the distance that much more. One thing I will say…my daughter shares a very close bond with my family, especially with her grandmother. With today’s technology, you will not have trouble staying close…skype, face time…they will help. I STILL wish my mom was with me when I’m out shopping and doing all the basic day to day stuff, but it hasn’t changed the closeness in our relationship.

    I love you silver lining! Good for you. You fought hard to find one, and I think it is a good one.

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    • RoseAnn, thank you! I’m so happy to know that technology changes everything. I knew, but it wasn’t sure it would work with little ones:) so glad to know, xo

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  7. Cindy, I have three boys and right now I’m at various stages of letting each of them come and go in my life. I imagine that your realization leaves you with an ache in your gut right now. I guess the silver lining would be having a ‘grand excuse’ to visit them. I know friends whose three kids are scattered, but they have a family reunion weekend each summer where their extended family can reconnect back in Michigan. I read somewhere that “the family umbilical cord is infinitely elastic” and that’s a thought that helps me.

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  8. Cindy, thank you, I had not heard about the infinitely elastic cord but I do love thinking about it that way. And ya know, I have not called my own mom in a couple of weeks. Need to do today!

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  9. I would’ve thought if anyone knew how to build connections with geographically-removed people via social media, it would be you. So, yes, make those memories, share them, see what the technology allows you to do.

    But there will no doubt be physical coming together too. There will be holidays and barbecues and other things. And if they can’t come to you, perhaps you can go to them.

    [I love the new blog theme too.]

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  10. Aww, Cindy, such a great post, I had missed this one so glad I found it eventually! It is hard when the children leave the nest and I never stop worrying about mine. I’m lucky in that the two who have left home live nearby but I do try not to haunt them too much with contact as they have their own lives. Of course, I miss them. I have memories of them growing up which I hold dear to me. I take comfort in their triumphs and accomplishments and I am there for them in hard times. I am proud of all my girls, all five of them. They are my world, near or far that elastic band may stretch but it will never break and the same goes for you and your boys x

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  11. Bodicia, thanks for seeking this post out and for the encouragement, always. I have heard (actually from my mother!) that girls are much harder to raise than boys and here you have five:) From what I’ve seen (those birthday cakes!!) you’ve done an awesome job.

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